July 6, 2007 Subject:
Stevenson in France
This is one of the first "in the footsteps" of Robert Louis Stevenson, some of his best works were his auto-biographical travel journals.
In 1903 Hammerton re-traced Stevenson's 1873 ten-day hiking trip ("Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes") through the Cevennes mountains in south-central France, except on a bicycle instead of a donkey, taking many pictures and even meeting a few people who remembered Stevenson. Hammerton then bicycled along the canals as originally detailed in "An Inland Voyage" (1870), Stevenson's first book. Later chapters are less Stevenson-specific but also in France. Hammerton heavily quotes Stevenson and shows a wonderful eye for the romance of France that Stevenson also captured. Hammerton's trip was only about 25 years after Stevenson so much remained the same and his descriptions and feel for the place are very authentic and help further fill in the picture of rural France in the later 19th century, in particular the introduction of urban electric trains which were common in the 1890s to 1920s.